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January 08, 2004
AG Files Action Asking DOE to Pay $6 Million Tax Debt

OLYMPIA -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire said today the state has gone to court to force the U.S. Department of Energy to pay a $6.8 million tax bill it owes the state.

The action, filed in the District of Columbia Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, states that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 requires DOE to pay the equivalent of state business and occupation taxes for activities carried out during the consideration of Hanford as a potential High Level Nuclear Waste Repository site.

DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management has disputed the $6.8 million bill, but Energy's own Office of Hearings and Appeals issued a final order in July directing the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management to pay the state. To date, no payments have been made, despite several requests by the state.

"The Department of Energy needs to pay its B&O tax bill, just like Washington businesses," said Gregoire. "For 10 years DOE has denied responsibility for paying Washington's Business and Occupation Tax for site characterization activities like surveying, sampling and testing. The time has come for Energy to own up to its responsibilities."

In 1986, Hanford was chosen as one of three final locations considered for the repository. Subsequently, however, Yucca Mountain in Nevada was selected as the site for the repository. After Hanford was ruled out, and site characterization activities ceased, the state filed a Payments Equal to Taxes (PETT) claim with DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management in 1993. The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management rejected the state's claim in 1999. But following a hearing in May 2001, the Office of Hearings and Appeals determined that the state was entitled to a PETT grant in the amount of $6.8 million.


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